'Tongue' is masterful. This album sees Anenon in expert form, fully realizing his potential. I admire and enjoy the minimalist compositions of Jon Gibson from the 70's and this new release, while right in that wheelhouse, is unique to Anenon. A fortay into thoughtful, trance like, and present soundscapes of balanced acoustic and electronic harmony. bravo!
Almost a millennium ago, the Italian poet, Dante Alighieri offered the indelible axiom: “heat cannot be separated from fire, or beauty from The Eternal.” In the centuries since, almost every strain of logic has been upended, save for the inextricable connection tethering beauty and timelessness.
Anenon’s Tongue is a beautiful album. That’s an adjective whose meaning has practically been obliterated by Hallmark prose and hyperbolic idiocy. But occasionally, a work of art digs deep enough to excavate the underlying meaning that existed in antiquity and figures to persist until we’re soil and dust.
This is beauty materialized through the abstract articulation of love, loss, fear, addiction, confidence, longing, hope, and sadness. At its best, the infinite array of human emotions swirled and distilled into sound. Sound becomes melody, harmony, and rhythm. The medium happens to be music, but it could really be anything. Pure expression. Tools mean nothing more and nothing less than palette and color.
Released on Friends of Friends, the fourth LP from the musician and composer born Brian Allen Simon was created in just under a month far away from his native Los Angeles near the small town of Palaia in Italy’s Tuscany region—home to some of the history’s finest creators from Dante to the Florentine Renaissance painters, Puccini to Andrea Bocelli.
If its backstory sounds almost absurdly picaresque, it’s a reflection of Anenon’s drive to find a setting staggeringly gorgeous enough to match the iridescence of the compositions. It was born inside a makeshift attic studio on the third story of a 16th Century Tuscan villa, during April of 2017.
As America shuddered in a dystopian spring, Simon decamped overseas to attempt to find something pure and ostensibly forgotten—soul music—not in the rhythm and blues sense, but something capable of reaching deep into our DNA coding and dimly remembered past.
It’s reminiscent of Brian Eno trying to produce an ambient record for Fela Kuti or Mulatu Astatke. Hints of John Cage and Steve Reich suffuse the former UCLA music history student’s deft manipulation of space, time, tension, and mood. It’s a beauty that’s both plaintive and prismatic. A jazz album, an electronic album, an ambient album, a classical album, an agnostic spiritual.
“I live in the city of ephemerality. The omnipresent LA light soaks my mind and body and moves me forward towards a dark and inconsistent absence of remembrance,” Simon says. “Around me, histories are bought and sold daily in an unplanned, urban and suburban dwelling that on paper makes zero sense, but in reality has become a haven for wide open creative thinking and action that couldn’t exist anywhere else. No matter where I go, the music that I make comes from this state of mind.”
His previous gem, Petrol tapped into the brilliance of this cognitive civic dissonance. Fader hailed it as “smooth and meditative… a parting gift to LA.” Pitchfork raved that it was a “major step forward.” British avant-garde bible, The Wire, offered similar adulation.
The major step forward has been followed by a quantum leap by the self-taught musician who first picked up the saxophone at 22. This represents Simon’s newfound ability to physically express and articulate sound in a pure and universal manner. These are highly personal songs of acceptance constructed mostly from soprano saxophone, piano with synthesizer, and field recording embellishments weaving in and out. A rolling Tuscan landscape filtered through the lens of an Angeleno.
“I wanted to make music that can live inside of anywhere one finds themselves: city or country,” Simon says. “It’s a series of shifting moods and melodies that through the heart, mind, hands, throat, and tongue sing an outpouring of metaphysical, nuanced psychedelic passing truth.”
It’s Tongue—a self-contained universe, a place where emotional and intellectual articulation coalesce and are physically let go into the world through sound and human communication. A masterwork of ineffable and profound beauty.